(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
During Monday’s Inauguration coverage, MSNBC commentator and host Chris Matthews remarked about the slipping popularity of the Republican Party and how in order to win they will have to rig the elections in order to win in the future.
“If states like Pennsylvania ever get controlled by Republican legislators, that is frightening,” [..]
“There’s so much willingness to rig the elections by the Republicans,” Matthews continued. “They know they’re heading into demographic trouble. They know they’re going to be a minority in this country. It’s almost like Lebanon – we’ve got to fake the census now, y’know?”
He concluded: “And what I see them doing is saying, ‘Okay, we know we’re never going to be popular again, so we’re going to have to rig it.”
Apparently, Mr. Matthews was unaware of what the Republicans in the Virginia legislature were up to.
Virginia Senate Sneaks Through Gerrymandering Bill While Country Watches Inauguration
by Annie-Rose Strasser, Think Progress
While the eyes of the nation were turned toward President Barack Obama’s second inauguration on Monday, the Virginia State Senate managed to hurriedly pass a bill that would redistrict the state’s senate seats.
The vote, 20-19, would have been a tie had Democratic Senator Henry Marsh been present. Marsh, a civil rights leader, was in Washington, D.C., attending the inauguration.
Had Marsh been present, however, the state’s Lieutenant Governor, Bill Bolling, would likely have broken the tie. The bill was reportedly pushed through in a matter of hours. [..]
The gerrymandering bill now goes to the heavily Republican House of Delegates for a vote, where it will likely face little opposition.
Victim Of VA State Sen. GOP ‘Dirty Trick’ Calls Move ‘Shameful’
by Evan McMorris-Santoro, Talking Points Memo
“I wanted to attend the historic second inauguration of President Obama in person,” Marsh said in a statement. “For Senate Republicans to use my absence to push through a partisan redistricting plan that hurts voters across the state is shameful.” [..]
Marsh said he was “outraged” and “saddened” by the state Senate GOP move. He said the bill was “unconstitutional,” a line being used by many Democrats in Virginia these days that could signal future legal action.
Gov. McDonnell Condemns Virginia Senate GOP Move As Bad Way To Do Business
by Evan McMorris-Santoro, Talking Points Memo
After first distancing himself from the new legislative lines the Virginia Senate GOP forced through Monday, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) condemned his party’s political gamesmanship Tuesday.
“I certainly don’t think that’s a good way to do business,” McDonnell told reporters in Richmond, according to the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. [..]
McDonnell has so far not said if he would veto the redistricting plan, which still must pass the state House. It is not clear if McDonnell has taken or will take other steps to undo the Senate GOP’s surprise move.
I wouldn’t put any money on Gov. McDonnell vetoing that bill, as Laura Conaway at The Maddow Blog notes, the governor would like everyone to just stop talking about the sneak redistricting now
When I asked McDonnell’s office just now whether he would sign or veto the bill, which still needs approval from the House, they sent over a recording (mp3) of the governor fielding that question today with local reporters. The verbate:
REPORTER: Is it time yet to tell these guys, “If it comes to me, I’m going to veto it”?
MCDONNELL: Well, listen, my focus this year is on education, transportation, and budget and government reform. That’s what I had asked this session to be about. Obviously, the tactics that were used yesterday was a surprise, and I don’t think that’s the way that business should be done. But I haven’t looked at the bill. I’m not happy about the things that have happened. Look, some people said they were against my transportation bill long before yesterday, so this has got a long way to go. I don’t know whether I’m going to get a bill or not. But I’m going to wait and see at this point what happens. I have not looked at the bill. At this point, though, I want people to focus on the things that are important. What I said the session should be about is education, transportation — not redistricting and other things. That’s my focus.
The short answer, so far, is no answer yet. McDonnell could try to keep the House from passing the bill and sending it to him. A year ago, he found himself in much the same position, trying to get the legislature off the ledge — and off the front pages — with that forced ultrasound bill. He ended up signing that one.
The bill would create a Republican super majority in both houses, so that even if a Democrat is elected governor, s/he’ll be unable to pass an agenda. Gov. McDonnell will sign this it.